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In matters relating to children, the jurisdiction of the Family Court is not limited by whether or not the parents were in a relationship. The Family Court can make orders with respect to children whether their parents were married, never married, lived together, never lived together, etc. The only children for whom the Family Court cannot exercise jurisdiction are those who at the time are subject to State welfare laws. However, the property and spouse maintenance jurisdiction of the Court can only be invoked if you have been married or in a defacto relationship (heterosexual or same sex). The English language is still yet to have the perfect words to describe each and every relationship that exists in modern society. “Husband”, “Wife”, and “Marriage” are easy, but for years our language has struggled to provide a word that best describes the parties to a defacto relationship. I do not think…

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Defining when a relationship starts and when it ends is not as simple as you might think  By Ann Northcote, Director – Farrar Gesini Dunn One of the first things a family lawyer will ask a new client is when their relationship started and ended.  To some people this is not a difficult question.  They may not have lived together until their date of marriage and that after a period of unhappiness, they moved out on a particular day.  The reason why it is important is because the legislation is built around concepts such as the duration of the marriage or relationship and contributions made including indirect contributions, non-financial contributions, and contributions as homemaker. The duration of a defacto or same sex relationship is also important for jurisdictional purposes.  Unless you have had a child together or substantial contributions have been made, for defacto and same sex couples you need…

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Trying to define a de facto relationship can be a pretty difficult task.  A relationship can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and all sorts of combinations, depending on the individual preferences of the people involved.  Today’s relationships can vary widely – from couples who spend time together on a ‘no strings attached’ basis, to couples who live together and have combined all aspects of their domestic life, with numerous variations in between.  For example, a de facto relationship could look like that of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who have children together, have joint finances and openly express the depth of their commitment to each other.  Other ‘couples’ might look more like Hugh Hefner and his Playmate girlfriends, and don’t seem to fit into traditional relationship roles and ideas about monogamy. However whilst all this diversity and flexibility might seem fantastic for the couples personally (and for…

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Last month we wrote about de facto relationships and how a couple could know when they had entered into one.  We looked at the case of Bill and Laura, a couple who began to live together on a part time basis and combine their finances.  Bill and Laura discovered that they were in a de facto relationship as defined by the Family Law Act and if they were to separate they could be vulnerable to a claim in the Family Court. Now that Bill and Laura have realised that they are in a de facto relationship, how can they find a way forward that won’t leave them feeling anxious about any future problems?  They both want to keep living together and keep having joint finances but both want to protect assets that they have acquired prior to living together. One possibility is that Bill and Laura could enter into a…

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